Posted in This is real life.

Sometimes, people are lovely.

Last year, I was NOT in graduate school and had plenty of time to slave over the blog. And so, I wrote what I – and most people who read it – considered to be a rather humorous but also honest poke at my coupled-up friends. Some, however, were offended and others were even a little concerned for me. Click on that link to make your own judgement.

This year, the goal was to write something cutesy that reflected the other half of my mixed feelings about our terribly commercial- and (I’m convinced) diabetes-driven holiday. I do like to celebrate all types of love on this day, including love of friends and pets. I happen to have the greatest of each, as evidenced by the candy and flowers I get from one set and snuggles from the other.


Only, I couldn’t seem to get started. Then, last night, as I was shopping for organic produce, my inspiration came to me in the form of an actual event I will now recount to you, as closely to real life as I can recall.

“Um, Miss?”

I feel two fingers on my shoulder and put down the apple I was inspecting for tiny bug bites. I turn to find, essentially, my perfect guy standing right behind me. Physically, at least.

Tattoos + dark shaggy hair + slightly older than me but not too old + casually and effortlessly put together outfit = yes.

The only thing that doesn’t quite fit is the expression of complete confusion and a little embarrassment written all over his face. I raise my eyebrows in response and give him a small smile, remembering that serial killers are a real thing, so I should be careful.

“Hi. So, this is strange, but do you have a few minutes to help me or are you in a big rush?”

“I can try to help you, no big rush. But I’m also not a world-class chef.”

Adorable boy laughs, a little eagerly, and shakes his head.

“No, no. Actually, I need to pick out some flowers for someone about your age and I’m, like, completely lost.”

Of course. But I do like to help people, so while the part of my brain that had momentarily been planning our spring wedding sighs in defeat, I followed him the twenty feet or so over to the seasonally-expanded floral department. He stops in the middle, turns to me, and motions at the flowers. All of them. Good God.

“Okay, no clue?” He shook his head. “Right. Well…” I think for a minute. “What colors does she hate?”

“Oh. Uh, orange. And she’s not a huge fan of yellow, even though that’s my favorite…”

I nod and move around toward the pink flowers, but pause to ask, “Do you want it to look professionally put together or more…DIY?”

“Um, yeah, I think she’d like it if it looked more like it was from me. She says that all the ones that are delivered look the same.”

I nod and move around to the back of the department, away from all the pre-packaged sets and into the wrapped-by-type, regular bunches.

“And have you known her long? Is this a big romantic gesture or just something extra for Valentine’s Day?”

“Oh, I’ve known her almost my whole life,” he says, and I can hear the smile in his voice. Childhood sweethearts, then, I think. And believe it or not, I actually like that a little better. It’s cute. But, as always happens when I assume things about guys, I’m almost immediately corrected. “The flowers are for my little sister.”

“Oh!” I say, and turn to look at him. Yep. He’s making fun of me in his head. “Right, then maybe no lilies. Those are a little too…” I trail off.

“Romantic?” he guesses.

“Only with roses, and roses are still really nice. But she doesn’t like yellow, so…” I turn away again, an idea forming in my head, and put back the ones I had in my hands. The next time I turn around, I have it.

Six pink gerber daisies, white carnations, and three yellow roses.

I hand over the assortment to him and say, “I know you said she doesn’t like yellow, but you do. So you throw in a few, and she’ll like them because they remind her that the flowers are from you. Plus, daisies because she’s your little sister, and that’s what you should give her. If she cares, daisies mean innocence and loyal love, the white carnations mean pure love, and the yellow roses mean friendship and caring.”

He laughs and asks, “Are you a florist?”

“No,” I tell him. “I just read a lot.”

He gives me a long look and says, “Yeah, so does she. She’ll probably like that I know that. Could you write it down somewhere?” He feels for a pen or paper, but I wave him off.

“I’m actually a teacher,” I tell him, pulling paper and a pen out of my purse. I write it down and hand it to him. “It’s sweet that you’re buying her flowers.”

He nods, reading the list over and distractedly tells me, “Yeah, she’s never gotten flowers before, actually, and my mom was complaining about it, so I thought that if Mom was that upset, she probably was. I mean, I know they’re not from a real boy or anything, but-”

“No, it counts,” I cut him off. “I would stick those in a mason jar or wine bottle or even some silly child’s cup or something – maybe something that represents a memory you have with her?” He nods, writes that down himself, and hands my pen back to me.

“That’s great, that’s great I could have been in here for hours – ah, right. Sorry!” he says, glancing at my grocery basket. “You still have shopping to do! Go – I’m good. And thanks.”

“No problem. And actually,” I say, starting to walk off. “I should thank you. For reminding me.”

“Reminding you what?”

“Just for reminding me,” I tell him, and wave as he heads to the register.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 🙂



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

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